President Joe Biden called for peaceful protests ahead of the release of footage of a Memphis traffic stop that led to the death of a 29-year-old Black driver, Tyre Nichols. And FBI Director Chris Ray said he was “appalled” after viewing video of the police stop that led to Nichols’ death.
Elsewhere in the political world, the RNC is electing a new chair as the party wrestles with its political future. And video of Paul Pelosi’s October attack was released.
Here’s the day’s political news:
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President Joe Biden spoke by phone Friday afternoon with the parents of Tyre Nichols, telling them that he understands their pain and admires their “courage” after experiencing his own personal losses.
“It’s devastating. I know people will say that to you, but I do know,” Biden can be heard saying in a phone placed on speaker and held by the Nichols family’s attorney Ben Crump. Biden referenced the death of his son Beau Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, and the death of his daughter and first wife in a 1972 car accident.
“I didn’t have the courage to do what you did,” Biden said, praising Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, for a statement he gave earlier Friday calling for peaceful protests in Memphis.
– Joey Garrison
The Republican National Committee re-elected chair Ronna McDaniel to a fourth term Friday, passing over challengers who wanted to move the party further to the right and forge a closer embrace of former President Donald Trump.
Defending her record in a earlier speech to RNC delegates, McDaniel declared victory by pledging to unify the party and claiming that “the Democrats are going to hear us in 2024.”
California attorney Harmeet Dhillon and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell challenged McDaniel by arguing that the party needs new leadership after losing the presidency and the U.S. Senate in the past two elections.
– David Jackson
RNC elec: As GOP decides how closely to embrace Trump, Ronna McDaniel wins contentious election to stay party chair
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t plan to watch the newly released video footage that shows the violent October attack on her 82-year-old husband Paul Pelosi.
“I have not heard the 911 call…and I have absolutely no intention to watch the deadly assault on my husband,” she said in brief remarks to reporters Friday afternoon.
She said his health is “coming along” as he continues to recover from head and hand injuries that required surgery and a nearly weeklong hospital stay.
Pelosi said she wouldn’t be making any other statements about the case.
– Candy Woodall
President Joe Biden has been briefed, but not seen the video footage of a traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black driver, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday.
Nichols, an avid skateboarder and FedEx worker who had a 4-year-old son, was pulled over on Jan. 7. He died three days after being hospitalized in critical condition after what police initially described as “confrontations” with officers.
Jean-Pierre said that nobody at the White House has seen the video footage of Nichols traffic stop.
“He’s going to be regularly briefed,” Jean-Pierre said. “He’s going to be monitoring the situation. As the case continues to develop, clearly he’ll be keeping a close eye.”
– Joey Garrison and Rebecca Morin
Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with senior White House officials on Friday to discuss advancing electric vehicles, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Jean-Pierre said Musk met with Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to the president, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta. They discussed how the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act could advance electric vehicles and “increase electrification more broadly.”
Musk has been critical of Democrats and President Joe Biden, who did not initially acknowledge Tesla’s role in U.S. electric vehicle manufacturing when talking about electric vehicles. Biden, who has advocated for more electric vehicles, began publicly acknowledging Tesla’s role after Musk’s complaints.
When asked whether this marks a “turning of the page” of the relationship between Musk and Biden administration, Jean-Pierre said “the outreach and the meeting says a lot of how important the president thinks the bipartisan infrastructure legislation is and how the inflation Reduction Act is” as it relates to electric vehicles.
– Rebecca Morin
McDaniel favored to win the RNC chair
Incumbent RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is favored to win the RNC chair election but has faced contentious challenges as the party wrestles with its future in the shadow of former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump.
California attorney Harmeet Dhillon, seeking McDaniel’s job, has racked up endorsements from prominent Republicans, including Florida governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis. Trump himself has stayed neutral in the race.
Meanwhile, more than 100 of the 168 actual GOP committee members have expressed support for McDaniel, more than enough to give her a victory and another two-year term.
The committee will hold its secret-ballot election during a general session on Friday, capping their three-day winter meeting at Dana Point, California.
FBI Director Chris Wray said Friday he was “appalled” after viewing the video of a Memphis police traffic stop that led to the death of a 29-year-old Black man.
“I will tell you I was appalled,” Wray said, referring to the video set to be released Friday involving Tyre Nichols’ encounter with five Memphis police officers.
Federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death.
Both Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland appealed for “calm” in advance of the video’s scheduled release.
– Kevin Johnson
What we know about Tyre Nichols’ death: Memphis to release footage of traffic stop that led to death
New York Republican Rep. George Santos, who previously claimed he was the grandson of Holocaust survivors, took to the House floor Friday afternoon to acknowledge the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The representative has admitted to embellishing his resume and religion, called himself Jewish before pivoting to say he’s “Jew-ish.”
Santos, during his one-minute floor speech, acknowledged his staffer’s grandmother who is a 93-year-old Auschwitz survivor.
“Antisemitism is a plague in this nation and it is undoubtedly up to us to ensure this kind of tragedy is never to be seen again,” he said.
– Rachel Looker
Santos recalls Holocaust: NY Rep. George Santos, who lied about being Jewish, recognizes Auschwitz anniversary
President Joe Biden announced Friday that Jeff Zients, who steered the response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the first year of his administration, will replace Ron Klain as the new White House chief of staff.
“I’m confident that Jeff will continue Ron’s example of smart, steady leadership, as we continue to work hard every day for the people we were sent here to serve,” Biden said in a statement.
In his statement, Biden highlighted his longtime relationship with Klain, who first worked with Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Biden was a senator.
“During the last 36 years, Ron and I have been through some real battles together. And when you’re in the trenches with somebody for as long as I have been with Ron, you really get to know the person. You see what they’re made of,” Biden said.
Biden said the White House will hold an official transition event next week to thank Klain for his work and welcome Zients to the White House.
– Rebecca Morin
Biden has a new chief of staff: Ron Klain stepping down, Jeff Zients in, as White House chief of staff, President Biden announces
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined comment Friday afternoon when asked about newly released video footage of the October attack on her 82-year-old husband Paul Pelosi.
“I’m not going to say anything right now. I may shortly,” she told Capitol reporters Friday afternoon.
Police body-camera video shows suspect David DePape pull a hammer from Paul Pelosi’s hands before attacking him out of view. As officers run into the congresswoman’s San Francisco home, her husband is seen face down on the floor and seemingly unconscious.
DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to six charges, including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
– Candy Woodall
The Metropolitan Police Department canceled all time off on Friday and activated all 3,900 members of its sworn-in force in anticipation of potential protests in Washington, D.C., related to the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
It’s a “precautionary” move, according to MPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who said the department is not aware of any planned protests.
Extra security barricades have been installed around the U.S. Capitol, where the House is in session Friday and the Senate is out.
The increased police presence in Washington, D.C. today coincides with an expected video release that will reportedly show “disturbing content” in the traffic stop that led to Nichols’ death “that does not represent the values that any law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold,” according to MPD.
– Candy Woodall
Officers face murder charges in Tyre Nichols death: ‘This was criminal’: Former Memphis police officers arrested, face murder charges in Tyre Nichols’ death
U.S. Capitol Police declined to give details on its police presence today.
“For safety reasons, we are not going to get into security details,” the public information office said in an email. “Overall, we are just being cautious like most Departments across the country.”
Five Memphis police officers were charged Thursday with murder in the death of Nichols, a 29-year-old man who died Jan. 10. The officers made the stop on Jan. 7. Body camera footage expected to be released today will reportedly show Nichols’ interaction with the officers.
– Candy Woodall
Tyre Nichols’ family speaks out: Tyre Nichols’ family, lawyer Ben Crump speak after seeing ‘appalling’ footage from arrest
The Biden administration appears to be paying close attention to criticism that Democrats only engage with Black voters during election cycles without delivering on the issues they care about.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is playing a crucial role in the administration’s outreach, quietly met last week with students and civil rights organizers to solicit ideas on how the Biden administration can lift up young Black men.
In the private meeting, attendees detailed ways the White House can help young men of color improve their livelihoods. Harris also wanted to know how the White House can assist young Black men with overcoming stigmas.
– Francesca Chambers and Mabinty Quarshie
California’s state bar is seeking to revoke the law license of John Eastman, the lawyer who spearheaded an effort to use slates of fake electors in battleground states to overturn the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump.
The state bar alleges that Eastman violated his duty to uphold the U.S. and California state constitutions in an attempt to “usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land.”
“There is nothing more sacrosanct to our American democracy than free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power,” George Cardona, chief trial counsel to California’s state bar, said in a statement. “…(Eastman) must be held accountable.”
Eastman holds law licenses from both D.C. and California.
– Ella Lee
The San Francisco Superior Court is planning on releasing the video of Paul Pelosi’s attack following a judge’s order on Wednesday.
Over the objections of prosecutors, a judge ruled that the footage of the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband can be released. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Murphy ruled there was no reason to keep the footage secret, especially after prosecutors played it in open court during a preliminary hearing last month.
Paul Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s husband, was asleep at the couple’s San Francisco home on Oct. 28 when someone broke in and beat him with a hammer. Prosecutors have charged 42-year-old David DePape in connection with the attack.
DePape pleaded not guilty last month to six charges, including attempted murder. Police have said DePape told them there was “evil in Washington” and he wanted to harm Nancy Pelosi because she was second in line to the presidency. His case is pending.
– The Associated Press
How the Pelosi attack unfolded: A break-in, a conversation, a 911 call, then violence
President Joe Biden said the family of Tyre Nichols deserves a “swift, full and fair investigation” into his death and called for “peaceful protests” after five former Memphis police officers were charged Thursday with second-degree murder.
“Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable,” Biden said in his first statement on the Nichols case. “Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.”
Nichols, 29, died Jan. 7 after a police traffic stop that resulted in “two confrontations with police,” according to Memphis police. Nichols “complained of a shortness of breath,” police said. Video from police-worn body cameras of the interaction is scheduled for release Friday evening. Nichols was Black. The five officers charged in the case are also Black.
“We cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted Black and Brown people,” Biden said, renewing his call for policing reform legislation that stalled in Congress last year.
– Joey Garrison
Memphis police incident: ‘This was criminal’: Former Memphis police officers arrested, face murder charges in Tyre Nichols’ death